Category Archives: Chinese Classic

MULAN HUA ( 木蘭花 ) A DOUBLE TRANSLATION

I have translated the Chinese classical poem into English, and May Ling from Toronto translated my English into modern Chinese. Take it as fun, for it is still a creative work.

MULAN HUA ( 木蘭花 )

Imprinted at first sight,
印刻在第一眼,
What plight would alter life?
人生境遇能改變什麼?
Idlers would change mind,
懒惰者能改變智力,
Fickleness was truly blind.
變化無常是真正的盲目。
At Lishan, love in the night,
在驪山,愛在夜里,
Tears rained the bells with blame and spite.
尽管淚雨零鈴般的怨恨。
My man in silk, how flimsy and callous!
我的男人在丝绸,多麼薄倖和無情!
Liked holding on a helpless twig in solace
好如抱着無助連枝的慰藉。

Link

MULAN HUA : AN ELEGY

Nalan Xingde (1665 -1685, Qing dynasty), a Manchurian Chinese, was a famous lyrical poet. He was also the emperor’s personal body guard. A friend from Toronto forwarded two verses of the above poem to me. I was very impressed with the beauty of his lyrical verses. I took the opportunity to translate this lyric (ci poem) to share with my English readers. I am not Chinese educated, and I apologize for any error in mistranslation. For understanding, you have to read historical references, such as the love entanglement of the Tang emperor and his famous concubine, Yang.

Imprinted at first sight,
What plight would alter life?
Idlers would change mind,
Fickleness was truly blind.
At Lishan, love promised in the night,
Tears rained the bells with blame and spite.
My man in silk, how flimsy and callous!
Liked holding on a helpless twig in solace.

The Chinese version follows, with han yu pin in:

人生若只如初見,
ren sheng mo zhi ru chu jiang

何事秋風悲畫扇?
he shi giu feng pei hua shan

等閒變卻故人心,
Děngxián biàn què gùrén xīn,

卻道故人心易變。
què dào gùrén xīn yì biàn.

驪山語罷清宵半,
Lí shān yǔ bà qīng xiāo bàn,

淚雨零鈴終不怨。
lèi yǔ líng líng zhōng bù yuàn

何如薄倖錦衣郎,
Hérú bóxìng jǐnyī láng,

比翼連枝當日願!
bǐyì liánzhī dāngrì yuàn

*******************************************************************************************
P/S: The forward mail to me was in in Chinese. Initially, this was my translation for the first two stanza:

1. 人生若只如初見,何事秋風悲畫扇
ren sheng mo zhi ru chu jiang, he shi giu feng pei hua shan
If one could hold one’s first impression of life afresh, one would not be affected by the changing vicissitudes of living; the wind in autumn would be a mere cooling pictorial bamboo hand fan.

image of the poet from the web

image of the poet from the web

THE SONG OF HARMONY (SUI TIAO KO TOU) – Double Translation

This poem was written by China’s well known poet, Su Tung-po (Sung Dynasty AD 1076). It was translated by me from classical Chinese into English. Again, Mdm. Liu May Wong, translated my English to modern Chinese. It is best you read the original poem, take our two translations as “interest”, and be aware that translations, no matter how good they are, commit injustices to the original. Enjoy the reading without making comparisons.

THE SONG OF HARMONY
和諧的歌聲

Whence the next luminous moon appeared?
下回發光的月亮從哪裡出現?
Raising my wine-cup, to the blue sky, I cheered.
舉起酒杯,歡呼向藍天.
I knew neither the gate of heavenly abode,
我也不知何處是天國的大門,
Nor how the evening in celestial years, decode.
既不知在天體的歲月如何解碼,
I desired to surf on the wind in my blissful return;
我渴望隨風旋轉在我的幸福中;
The exquisite jade and jasper might damage was my concern.
美玉和碧玉的威力是我的憂慮.
The high altitude with its cold was my deterrence;
高度海拔寒冷也是威慑的因素;
Dancing in its shadows, the transcendence was transience.
跳舞在其黃昏中,超越是短暂的.
The lights revolved around its amber pavilion;
萬燈圍繞其琥珀色的樓閣;
Through its low lattices, it scattered in zillion.
通過其低格子,揮霍龐大的數字算不清.
Its reflection flickered on my sleepiness;
其閃影摇曳在我的瞌睡中;
The fulfillment and separation were blameless.
實践和分開是無可責備.
Happiness and depression, union and separation
幸福和抑鬱,融洽和分離
are human restlessness;
是人類的煩躁不安;
The imperfect moon displayed its changing brilliance,
不完美的月亮顯示其亮度在變化,
And infrequent roundness.
和罕見的圓度
Such imperfection was revealed since bygone years;
那麼的缺陷顯現自從逝去的歲月;
We only cherished to live longer and what we endeared.
我們唯有珍惜延長生命和珍惜互愛.
To share the bond such brilliance brought;
分享債券,如此的可帶來光彩;
Despite living miles apart, perfection forever sought.
儘管生活相隔英里,完美是永恒的尋求.

Yi Jing and Michel Foucault

Nick Mansfield in his book on “Subjectivity” (2000, p180) concluded that subjectivity was about us, and could only be defined and known with “thorough analysis and critique.” Exploring subjectivity was discovery of the self in human existence through relationship, feeling, experience, identities and attributes, and would invariably touches on the interior life of “I”. The self has become the focus of many subjectivity theories in the West, and he advises us to have endless “open discussion” in a modern era so that the self gain some insight into each rather than anchor in any particular fixed theory. The Chinese has discussed such theories since the beginning of their recorded civilization. Despite this, Duan Dezhi commented that there was no exact translation for subjectivity into Chinese, and he proposed two aspects of subjectivity in Chinese lexicon, namely, zhu guang xing (ideas, concepts and consciousness) and zhu ti xing (body and material base). He elaborated that Chinese philosophy stressed more on attainment of universal human values in “compatible and complementary relationship”, mutual interdependence and interpenetration of the selves of the “I” and the “other”.

Yi Jing is considered the premier of ancient Chinese Classic (scriptures). Yi in Chinese means change, easy, or transformation. The cannon defined yi (change) as “sheng sheng”, meaning “life and growth”, “production and reproduction” or “creative creativity.” I think a more appropriate translation will be becoming or unceasing. The pictographic in Chinese character has a composite picture of a sun and a moon, which implied about the Yang and the Ying or the unity of Duality (or polar opposites). The binary concept is easy to understand rationally, but due to its constant flux and dynamic alteration of the hexagrams, complicated by the ancient vocabulary in the text, it becomes not so easy to understand Change. Jing meant the string of texts linked together. It is a bi semiotic system, consisting of two sections:

1. Jing: the core or basic text. This again is sub divided into two unequal chapters; the upper volume consisted of 30 hexagram (qua); and the second volume of 34 qua, thus a total of 64 qua. This basic text, extremely ancient, diverse in origins, appeared unsystematic and complicated, is basically used for divination, and appeared in earlier text and translations. It is interesting to note that hexagram 63 represented “completion” and the final 64 meant “incompletion” so that the cycle of change repeated itself ad infinitum for a different rebirthing interpretation.

2. This section consisted of “Ten Wings” (Zhuan) or Commentaries, consisted of seven sub-sections. In the middle is the Philosophical Guide (conspectus), or Ci Zi meaning attached verbalization. It was alleged to be written by Confucius himself, as evidenced by the sage’s quotation in the appendices. However, Daoism and Buddhism claimed their text was inserted in the commentaries, and Yi Jing was a hybridization of many prevalent teaching. The subjectivity in interpretation of text depended on the readers’ philosophical perspective. The rest, e.g. Shuogua (Explaining the Trigrams) are commentaries or appendices, explaining each trigram (yao) or hexagram (qua, or double trigram), either in its sequence, origin, order or relationship.

During the course of Chinese history many commentaries were added into Yi Jing, at times enriching it, and at times, complicating it. Early Chinese feudal history and philosophical thoughts could be assessed through Yi Jing commentaries and appendixes. The scripture was considered by Professor Cheng as an “onto-hermeneutical” text, with the “purpose of helping us to understand the world both phenomenological and ontologically” simultaneously. Tu Wei Ming, quoted by Joseph A Alder, commented that the cannon was “anthropocosmic”, meaning dynamic interaction of humans and the natural world. Its symbolic nature was not designed for mere intellectualization, but more for apprehending the nature of reality, understanding, practice and action as one.

There are three different versions of Yi Jing, viz. Liangshan, Guicang and Zhouyi. The latter is the current popular version. These three versions existed at different period of history, from pre Hsia, to late Zhou dynasty more than five thousand years ago. They differ in the sequence of the hexagram, and also in the method of deriving a hexagram. They also used different basic qua (hexagram) for style expression. For instance, Liang Shan used Gen, hexagram 52 as reference point, Guisang used Kun, hexagram 2; and Zhouyi used Gian, hexagram 1.
Yi Jing is not written by any single person, or in any single historical period or dynasty. The hexagram was originated from the mystic sage, Fuxi. It evolved from the initial eight hexagrams into 64 hexagrams in late Zhou dynasty by King Wen and his son, the Duke of Zhou. During the subsequent Spring-Autumn period and The Warring States, Confucius and his disciples edited its philosophical Guide, Xi Ci and the “Ten Wings” (appended commentaries and Verbalizations). After the Han (206BCE – 220CE) and Song (960-1279 AD) dynasty, modifications and commentaries were amended or reconstructed. In Zhou Yi (Literally meaning Change in the Zhou historical period), Gian (heaven) and Kun (earth) are its two main doors. These two hexagrams are its basic, forming part of the trinity, namely, heaven, man and earth. Man resides in the space between heaven and earth. The Chinese character for man, ren, shows a picture of a pair of feet on the “ground” or earth image; a horizontal line across the middle means immense and a third horizontal line on the apex represents heaven. Each trigram has a representation of natural, cultural, familial-social and psychological phenomena, and also shows events and effect in temporal relation. Each hexagram (quo) is composed of two trigram stacked together, and each quo has its individualized image and interpretation. Each trigram is composed of three Yao; each Yao is either a straight line or an interrupted line. The straight line represented Yang, male, with its phallic symbol; the Yin, female, with a “river” in between the “shores”! Each line in the trigram, whether broken or unbroken, represents each of the trinity: heaven, man and earth, in their yang or yin manifestation. The changes in the yao, trigram and hexagram represent the laws of transformation and change. The word “yao” in Chinese consists of two crosses stack on top of one another, implying choices and options at the “cross road” or junctions of changes. Therefore, sixty four hexagrams consist of three hundred and eighty four yao. They interact and interconnect, nourish and block one another in ceaseless activities.
Again, when Yi is impoverished, it undergo changes; when appropriate changes occur, flow then become smooth; when flow smoothen, it last (it has its own duration too) … the cycle of change repeats its cycle repeatedly in dynamic and voluntary ways. Each hexagram is a temporal frame, in cyclic alternations in incessant change. The temporal embraces knowledge of opportunity, ability to exploit the right timing, and ability to understand that opportunity has come and gone. The ethical aspect incorporates the Middle Path, and the ability to refrain from negative action. The temporal nature also points to a potential future state, which fortune tellers exploit it for prognostications, for Yi Jing, apart from its philosophical and psychological ontology also has a numerical and logical domain. The explanation of hexagram contained historical or mythical narratives, which helped belief in divinity and geomancy (Feng Shui). Divinity was also a language of Change, for the self had wish fulfillment to transform or to overcome obstacles. In the Ten commentaries, there are narratives or stories explaining the line-statements (yaoci), and qua or hexagram statement (quaci). Together they offer philosophical interpretation of the subject’s existence in a cosmological time frame, within a social and cultural construct. The self thus relate with the other in multiple dimensional ways, with awareness of the risks and benefits, and yet never certain of its outcome.
The scripture opened with these statements:
“Heaven is high and honorable, earth is low and base; thus the positions of Qian and Kun are determined. The high and low being set out, the honored and lowly are positioned”.
This simple introduction was often misunderstood that Yi Jing was patriarchal in nature and masculine dominant. It was looking at the subject with a vertical view of inflexible hierarchy, ignoring the horizontal aspect of duty, responsibility and order in family relationship. When there is personal order in the self, then the order is regulated in the family, which brings order to the state and peace and harmony in the world. The statement was a template for the importance of social hierarchy to achieve order in the person, family, community and nation; without order relationship would be in chaos, as observed in social turmoil or revolution or war. In Chinese philosophy, the yang and yin is not exact Cartesian divide, for in the “baqua” image, we saw each in the other. The Chinese word, good (“how”), is composed of female and a male in unison and completion; each stand in its right perspective position. Yang (nourishing) and Yin (supportive) were representation beyond sexual connotation. They might mean hot and cold, hard and soft, activity and passivity, liked a pair of chopsticks in action. Thus the introduction was interpreted as spatial and temporal relationship in human interaction and interpenetration with nature and nurture in the fluid state of becoming. The centrality of yin-yang alteration is also linked to moral principles and fulfilled in virtuous conduct.
The significant lesson in Yi Jing is for human being to understand the constant and unceasing change in human existence, with its varied time and event perspective to consider. There are factors of fate, luck, opportunity, conditionality, connections and personal knowledge and cultivation to consider. The Chinese word for fate, ming, is written with three radicals (ren, yi, kou) on top of one another, which meant, the first thing a man has to bow is his destiny. The self has free will and autonomy and rationality, and yet, at times, he cannot always escape his destiny, for not everything is within his will and control. In the face of so many available options, choices could also be an illusion for the self. Nevertheless, the scripture advises, “When conditions are impoverished, adjust, adapt and transform to change for the better; when the right change is made, the Dao becomes functional again, and persist until it’s time the outmoded is replaced the new.” With such complexity, permutations and difficult language, Yi Jing is really not “easy” to read or understand. In the same vein, the self in human relatedness is not easy in existence, unless one can transcend all bipolarity values (fame and shame, pretty and ugly) limitations.
Yi Jing is a didactic, moralistic and humanistic teaching, which promotes self cultivation based on benevolence and harmony of Confucianism. It provides insight to the experience of complexity, fragility and spontaneity of living in a world of contextually. The classic empowers the self to adjust and adapt to change, but also to acknowledgment human destiny. It is a teacher directing instruction, and the relationship between mentor and mentee are liked father and son. The phonic structure of Chinese language enables easy rote recitation for memory. In contrast, Foucault discourse is more student centered, where students are encouraged to exercise intellectual independence, do their own research and thinking and challenge existing scientific teaching. Foucault’s discourses are more diverse and logocentric and sexual; whereas Chinese teaching are more conservative and the self and the others have a common shared tradition and culture. Foucault teaching was about micro power dispersed everywhere in the “sociology of knowledge” level, where conduct impacted conduct in power relation, and he challenged epistemological status quo. In contrast, Yi Jing examined the subjectivity of the human beings from the theoretical ontological level, where the I-self seek harmony with the other self and with nature to achieve personal transcendence. Foucault had distaste for “meta narratives” and disliked his discursive discourse to be labeled, whereas Yi Jing was loaded with commentaries.
(1977 words)
References:
1. Adler, A Joseph, 2012.”The Great Virtue of Heaven and Earth”Deep Ecology in Yi Jing, Kenyon College,USA.http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Writings/Deep%20Ecology%20in%20Yijing. 24-3-2013
2.Yu,Yih-hsien. (2005) Two Chinese Philosophers and Whitehead Encountered. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 32-2 (June 2005) p 239-255 http://philo.thu.edu.tw/files/archearticalPDF/0102arche.pdf Cited 24-3-201
3.Yu Yih-hsien.2010.The Jijing,Whitehead, Time Philosophy .Zhouyi Studies(English)Vol6,13-31 Tunghai University, Taiwan.
4.Hall, E. Donald.2004.Subjectivity: The Neocritical Idiom.Routledge,Taylor & Francis Group.
5.Mansfield,Nick 2000.Subjectivity:Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway.UK Allen & Unwin.
6.Shaughnessy, Ed.2001.The Writing of Xici Zhuan and the Making of Yijing, Chicago cited 15-03-2013http://www.biroco.com/yijing/Shaughnessy_Xicizhuan.pdf9
7.Duan Dezhi. On the History, Theoretical, difficulties and Prospects f subectivity in Western Thought. http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Anth/AnthDuan.htm cited 24-12-2013
8.http://chinese.dsturgeon.net/text.pl?node=25006&if=en
9.http://afpc.asso.fr/wengu/wg/wengu.php?l=Yijing&no=0
10. http://zhouyi.sdu.edu.cn/english0/newsxitong/selectedPapers/200863182522.asp
11. Some images of qua :
Yao is either yang (unbroken line) or yin (broken line).
Three yao stack together to make a trigram; two trigram together to make a hexagram. Each hexagram is a guq, with images of representations as follows:
.
12.Images of baqua , showing the yin and yang interpenetrate into one another:

LI BAI , WINE IS NOW SERVED. ( A DOUBLE TRANSLATION)

A few years ago I have translated the above poem from classical Chinese into English. Mdm. Liu May Wong, translated my English into modern Chinese. Please take it as a literary game. The strange admission is I am not Chinese educated, and she is not well versed in English – a kind of “half baked” in our language proficiencies. However, for some readers, it may not be a bad idea to read her “modern” Chinese version, before you read the original, as long as the readers do not have the habit of making comparisons.
In March 2013, Li Bai’s hometown, Jiangu, Sichuan, held a poetry recital of this famous Tang (701 -762 AD) poet. BBC called him “China’s drunken superstar poet”. This post is mainly to arouse interest for some readers, whether Chinese or non Chinese.

WINE WILL BE SERVED
李白将進酒

Have you not seen,
你沒見到,
The downpour into the Yellow River, a heavenly scene,
那傾盆大雨落滴黃河裡,如天堂般的景色,
Its torrent gushes into the ocean,
其洪流湧進茫茫的大海,
And the return stream not reckon.
料想不復流.
(Have you not seen)
(你沒見到)
The weariness in your parents’ white lock
當你的父母衰弱氣塞,
A clear reflection of aging in shock.
老化休克是明顯的反映.
At the dawn of life, as black as silk,
在生命的開端,如黑如絲,
shines at dusk, shows snowy lines.
閃耀在黃昏,顯示雪域行
When happy opportunities appear,
當快樂時機來臨,
Fulfill them here and dear,
滿足他們盡情歡樂,
Do not let our golden cups emptied of wine
別讓我們的金杯無酒空對月
Under such bright moonshine.
多麼明朗的月光下.
The talent I am blissfully endowed
天賜天賦我幸福
My skill will facilitate what I have avowed
我的技能促進我承認
A thousand teals of gold may be squandered,
費盡黃金千兩,
Its value, in kinds and ways, will be recovered
其價值,在種類和方式將復來.
Gastronomical delight of beef and lamb is served
宰牛烹羊的佳餚為款客,
A binge of three hundred cups will be observed.
三百杯子歡鬧儀式將舉行.
To Master Cen,
向岑大師,
To Scholar Dangiu,
向丹丘學者,
Wine is now served
美酒在招待,
Do not be reserved
別含蓄,
I shall sing to both soon
我快将歌唱
Attentively, your ears,
請君側耳傾聽,
Attune palatial music, fine cuisine, is not grand
調絃富麗堂皇的音樂, 精美菜餚, 不是盛大,
Wish we are forever drunk and in dreamland
希望大家喝醉永遠在夢境裡.
In ancient times, lonely sages are not remembered
在古代, 記不清幾多聖賢皆寂寞,
Only wine drinkers have their names sculptured.
只有喝酒醉翁雕塑他們的盛名.
In the past, Prince Chen held a grand banquet in his palace
在往時,陳王子在他的宮殿舉行盛大的宴會,
In pursuit of hedonistic indulgence par excellence,
沉迷追求卓越的享樂,
At a cost of ten thousand silver pieces
丟掉白銀萬兩
For a mere dipperful of wine dashes
僅是為一群酒友
As your host, money is never in doubt
作為主人,金錢是毫無疑問的.
To procure more wine for our bout.
採購更多的酒為大家的較量,
My spotted horse and fur worth a thousand
我的斑點馬兒和毛皮價值白銀一千兩,
My son to trade and buy wine on errand
我的兒子是貿易和購酒的差使.
Together we shall drown away
我們的沉迷齊齊將消失
The million miseries of bygone days.
昔日百萬苦難的日子.

WOOING OSPREYS – “DOUBLE TRANSLATION”

This poem, the primer poem from The Book Of Poem, was translated by me from Classical Chinese into English. My reader, Mdm. Liu May Ling, translated my English version back into modern Chinese. It is done for fun, and, I think, it is easier to read the modern version than the ancient. Apology to the purist minded. It has its own merit.

魚鷹求愛

“ Guan, guan”, the Ospreys woo to their mate;
〝冠雉,冠雉〞,鱼鹰尋覓他们的伴侣;
That coos on the river ait.
在河畔咕咕地叫.
Fair and gracious maiden;
美麗親切的少女;
Well matched for courting gentlemen.
君子求偶喜相配,
Water cress of varying height;
高低不等的水芹;
Adrift on both left and right,
漂泊左右的兩畔,
Are sought day and night, no less,
晝夜依舊在尋覓,
In vain they court;
他們徘徊徒然覓不到;
For days and night they hold the ladies in their thought.
晝夜他們思索女士們.
Their hearts are saddened with ache,
他們悲傷和心痛,
And they toss around in bed.
失意扔倒在床上.
Water cress of varying height;
高低不等的水芹;
Pick and chose from either left or right.
左右兩畔中的挑選,
Fair and gracious lady;
美麗親切的女士,
Tuning their harp and lutes in melody.
她們不停奏著悅聽的樂曲.
Water cress of varying height;
高低不等的水芹;
Selecting from either left or right.
左右兩畔的選擇.
Fair and gracious lady;
美麗親切的女士;
Nuptial bells (and drum) ring with gaiety
響起婚禮的鐘聲 (和鼓) 環與歡樂.

RIDDLE OF PICTOGRAPHS

To keep citizens civil, produce grains for needs to meet;
Poor for centuries, work as slaves and yet beg to eat.
When backward, ten bullies come to plunder their land;
Free world, hand in hand, ensures their colonies never stand.
Play their games, follow their rules;
Fit as world factory, toil like mules.
Stab by sword into heart, bear pain and tolerate;
Weapon withdraws, no longer plays second rate.
Blame on what fate inscribes;
Do not bow your life as describe.
Change your destiny;
Refuse order, rise in mutiny.
Opportunity and knowledge to transform fate;
When impoverish change to open freedom’s gate.

Eat Food Destiny

Chi Shi Ming

Write the above chinese in traditional script to get the riddle